The progress made this week was mostly outside and underground. However, I did find a few new things inside that are picture worthy for this blog series!
Council has met to discuss our ongoing response to the covid-19 pandemic. The council has begun developing a plan for reopening that will reflect the scientific data from the El Paso County health dashboard. The council has determined that the sanctuary will remain closed to worship through Easter. We are hopeful, however, that soon after Easter, we will be able to return to indoor worship in some capacity if the trend downward continues.
We are in a very interesting time where many people have received vaccines and feel personally safe to return to more crowded venues. However, faith leaders, including myself, are not eligible for a vaccine until March 5. As our pastors and worship leaders get vaccinated and more and more of the congregation receives vaccines and the trend lines of the pandemic push downward I am confident that we will return to indoor worship this spring. We do need to keep an eye out for the variants of the virus and the possibility of another surge which would necessitate delaying a little longer. But, all in all, the end is in sight.
It’s helpful to me, when I get impatient, to look at the numbers. In February we had an incident rate of 125.5 and a positivity rate of 5.97%. Last August we were lower than that with an incident rate of 34.6 and a positivity rate of 4.53. Now that was before we had vaccines, but it does remind me that while we are lower relative to the peak in December, we are still higher than many other points during the pandemic. But we’re going the right direction.
Given the decline and turn to Yellow on the dial, we have decided to return to outdoor in-person worship on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and Wednesdays at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m weather permitting. We will still provide online worship and are committed to that being a permanent feature of our ministry. The outdoor Sunday worship will be live and not a watch party like we did last year. In addition, we are allowing small groups to return to meeting in person as long as they wear masks and their numbers do not exceed 50% of the room capacity in which they meet. I pray these small measures will give us some comfort as we endure the waiting till we can resume worship in the sanctuary.
Thank you for understanding and hanging with your congregation during these trying times.
We need your help this Sunday, February 28 at 10:30 a.m. to make a rope labyrinth on the First Lutheran Lawn. I need helpers to spray paint the design on the lawn, then people to trace that design with rope and secure with pegs. Then once it is created, we can all walk through it and experience the loveliness of this simple, yet meditative prayer practice!
All supplies for this project will be provided. Just bring yourself and be willing to put your hands and feet to work!
“Take up your cross, deny yourself, follow me”
Those are not easy tasks. The cross isn’t about a personal burden or hardship. Taking up your cross means sacrificing for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. It might mean putting your reputation on the line or speaking out on behalf of someone unpopular who is hurting. It might mean tithing and living on less of your income because you support the work of the gospel through the church. Deny yourself is self-explanatory, but it does not make it easy. It goes against every message our culture says to us. What does it mean to live a life where you do not put your needs and wants, hopes, and dreams at the center? Follow Jesus. Jesus went against the grain, cared for those in need, was crucified by the powers in this world. But then he was raised. That is our path, fellow Christians. May God gives us the strength to walk it
Created and Creating: A Lenten Journey through Artistic Spiritual Practices
Lead by Michaela Eskew
February 21 – March 28 2021
You are created in the image of a creator! That means that you have the innate gift to create. Whether you know these talents already or you are just an admirer of other’s beautiful creations, I encourage you to join us this Lenten period to try out some creative spiritual practices. In our very first session, February 21st at 10:30am MST, we will be doing sand mandalas!!
For those of you at First Lutheran, you received these in your Lenten Bags. If you are a visitor and want to join us you will need some sand and paper, that’s it! If you don’t have sand you can use colored pencils, but they will need to be able to be erased. We are seeking impermanence with our art this week.
You can find us on the following zoom ID: 843 6443 9242.
Whether you feel comfortable to join us via zoom or not, I encourage you to explore the following spiritual practices this Lenten season.
February 21st – Sand Mandalas
February 28th – Creating a Labyrinth on the First Lutheran Lawn (no zoom)
March 7th – Paper Cut-Outs
March 14th – Creative Writing
March 21st – Clay modeling with Jazz accompaniment
March 28th – Lutheran Rosary
Beginning Sunday, February 21, we will resume outdoor services at 11:00 a.m. This service will include a live sermon and Holy Communion. We will also hold outdoor Wednesday services at 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. weather permitting. Sign up here to let us know you’ll be attending so we can make sure to have communion for you.
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan” Mark 1:9
What do you know about your baptism? I’m not talking about when or where you were baptized, but about what happened to you when you were baptized. Jesus changed baptism, made it what we call in the Lutheran church ‘a means of grace.’ That is God saves us through baptism by uniting us to Jesus and giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Luther said that in baptism we “are redeemed from sin, death and the devil.” It this enormous event in our lives that we are invited to lay claim to, to accept by faith, to believe. It’s also a call to ministry. All of us, by virtue of our baptism are called to join Jesus in ministry and share the good news of God’s love with the world. It’s a big deal!
In this time of distance and ample time with our families, First Lutheran would like to offer you a Lenten Devotional that is specifically adapted for families with grade-school children (though believers of all ages are welcome to explore their faith in a new creative way through this resource). As you seek to fill your time with arts and crafts, home schooling and screen time, we hope you can also add in some faith formation.
The Lenten Devotional was written to carry you week-by-week through the Lenten season with special devotions for Holy Week, but please adapt it to your own family’s needs. The Children’s Sermons each Sunday will be tied to this devotional, as well as Sunday School curriculum, so it’s a perfect partner for discussing faith at home. The devotional is filled with fun videos, crafts, and hands-on projects to make the stories come alive.
We pray your family finds a meaningful Lenten journey within these pages and we look forward to the day when we can once again return to worship and learn together.